Settlements reached in 3 of 5 suits against IP

Published 12:00 am Saturday, September 19, 2009

Settlements have been reached in three of five federal suits filed against International Paper following the May 3, 2008 explosion at the Redwood plant.

Talks between IP counsel and attorneys for Robert T. “Terry” Townsend and Kenneth Townsend, Eric Wilhite and Cody Wendt wrapped up this week. Terms of the settlements were not disclosed.

The four were employed by firms contracted to perform routine maintenance near the plant’s recovery boiler, which was offline at the time of the blast. The Townsends, of Utica, industrial insulators with M-Co Inc., Wendt, of Louisiana, employed by Turner Industries, and Wilhite, of Louisiana, employed by Hydrochem Inc., sought punitive and compensatory damages in the suit, claiming the boiler was “negligently and recklessly ignited” while it contained combustible gas. They were treated for injuries at a Georgia burn center. 

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The cases were filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Mississippi. Similar cases involving three other contract workers, brothers Darren and David Clark, both of North Carolina, and James A. Jones of Harrison County, remain active before the court. Another case, filed by contract employee Glenn Rankin, remains active in Warren County Circuit Court. No trial date has been set.

No IP personnel were involved in the blast, which killed one contract worker and injured 17 others. The Mississippi 3 mill shut down for six months after the explosion.


Contact Danny Barrett Jr. at